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Showing posts from 2017 link dump again

The Grauniad Needs to Die Soon

George Monbiot is shilling for the glorious red future again. This isn't the first time he's written about neoliberalism this year, so I guess this is on his mind a fair bit. He even did a video for Verso on the subject. Having read David Harvey's book on the same subject I am disinclined to humor any nonsense about neoliberalism anymore than I am about cultural Marxism.

~ a. neoliberal laundry ~
1. Monetarism in central bank policy
2. Privatization of lots of government organisations
3. Deregulation of many or all industries
4. Tax decreases as absolute quantities
5. Re-balancing of labor laws to be more than 50% in favor of employers
6. Decrease in funding for or abolition of state welfare benefits

Did I miss anything?

To what extent have the countries of the world implemented these policy changes since 1970? Well, Chile managed all six but went back to a 50/50 split in labour law when Pinochet was ousted. So that's one country.

The USA did 1 and 4 from the late 70&#…

Capital & Labor in the Race to Exploit the Other

The idea that labor exploits capital is equally as plausible, sans assumptions*, as the idea that capital exploits labor. This is only intended as a response to the formal concept, descriptive or normative, of exploitation in Marx's schema from Capital Volume I.

* Assumptions include the power relation whereby capital is just assumed to be above labor hierarchically.

~ Capital exploits labor because... ... Capital earns income from production done by labor that capital didn't perform
~ Labor exploits Capital because... ... Labor earns income from capital that labor didn't buy
Basically in good old formal logic fashion both of those cases above, being factual descriptions, are true at once or are false at once.

Will Automation Make All of the Jobs Disappear?

... No.

There is no reason to suggest that automation will dramatically increase unemployment in the short term, or at all in the long term.

Seriously, it will not.

Do read the links in the order in which they appear please. Finding the right comments in the third link might be quite interesting. They are all by a user called BestTrousers and start with "RI" meaning R1.

The main argument used by HealthcareEconomist3 is to give a survey of several works, while BestTrousers goes for comparative advantage.

Matt Bruenig versus definitions...

Private property was a necessary precondition for the long-term adoption of farming. Matt Bruenig had a bee in his bonnet about libertarian entitlement theories, and I would sympathize if the attack was purely against the 'non-aggression axiom' crowd, but in practice it's an attack on private property rights per se, hence my previous post on the subject back in December 2015.

Matt's definition of the libertarian position on property rights makes a big omission and needs to be changed from;
Theft occurs when (1) you threaten or use force against someone (2) to exclude them from scarce material resources (3) without their consent. ... to; Theft occurs when (1) you threaten or use force against someone (2) to exclude them from previously legitimately claimed scarce material resources (3) without their consent.
Those three words in bold are very important. Could 'legitimately' above be a synonym for peacefully? For consensually? At least for now I'll defer to … for all your essay needs!

There is a website called Aeon that is home to many essays. One by Joel Mokyr summing up the thesis of his 2016 book A Culture of Growth was quite lovely, whereas another by Peter Fleming about human capital theory was bizarre.

The site, overall, seems to be well worth a read. Whatever your outlook on life the essays will be a mixed bag, with a defence of organisational hierarchy perhaps catching in some craws.


That third essay seems to be defending a situation that Deirdre McCloskey (or myself) would call 'bourgeois equality' or equality of fundamental status (dignity in McCloskey's locution) and equality before the law. Good.

Jeffrey Tucker, Max Eastman and the New York Times on Communism in the Twentieth Century

Trickle-down Economics as Economic Theory in Reality

I watched an interview with Deirdre McCloskey on the Youtube channel of the Institute for New Economic Thinking. [1]

After doing so I contributed to a comment thread, recreated in full below, wherein a chappy who claimed to be an economist tried to convince me that trickle-down economics actually is a serious thing after all. This was in response to my posting a link to Thomas Sowell's article The Trickle-Down Lie, and I am so far unconvinced by the tale the economist in question spun for me.

He cited a paper from the 90's as his example, and I entreat you to have a gander at its abstract and compare that to trickle-down as described by David Stockman in his interview with William Greider on supply-side economics. [2][3][4]

Steve Horwitz isn't in love with the phrase, but offers a decent definition;
It’s hard to pin down exactly what that term means, but it seems to be something like the following: “those free market folks believe that if you give tax cuts or subsidies to …

Why I Am Not a Historical Materialist

Hopefully you good folks can indulge me by forgiving this post. It is an unfinished mess because I wanted it out there as the anchor for a hyperlink from a Reddit thread.
At the momebt everything below is a jumble of notes, but I will be reworking it bit by bit starting today.
Hopefully this post will be sorted out and typed in full before the end of April 2017.


Historical materialism is the idea that history progresses in stages - slavery, then feudalism, then capitalism, then socialism, then communism - driven by changes in the technologies or techniques of production, and that any human civilisation will exemplify this process.

This makes historical materialism an exercise in both historicism and materialism.

Historicism is the idea that studying the past can reveal history's in-built course or narrative, and so show you the future.

Materialism is the idea that ideas ( and institutions) ultimately* don't matter in determining our destinies, and that therefore only material…

Price Fixing? Not on your nellie!

Remember how I said free market cartels and labor-market monopsony do not exist?

The subreddit called BadEconomics includes a delightful thread on the subject of cartels so I feel I should append it to this blog. Here you go. It goes something like this;

Any market with four or fewer competitors is just naturally going to suffer from price fixing.(self.badeconomics) byDrSandbags From /r/technology comes another thread filled to the brim with an incredibly nuanced and sensible discussion of communications policy. The idea of something called competition in providing Internet service is ridiculous. Even if all four of the major competitors were in the same area, they would simply make a gentleman's agreement on prices. There are two aspects that make price fixing (or collusion in general) much more difficult to maintain that are present in this situation: 1.) It is more diff…

Thomas Sowell on Leftism... not the Leftfield album.

Thomas Sowell was interviewed a long time ago, and the video of it somehow found its way onto YouTube.

In the interview Sowell states that very few leftist arguments can stand up three crucial questions about their preferred arrangement for society, whatever the particular flavour of leftism under discussion:

1. Compared to What?
2. At what cost?
3. What hard evidence do you have?

Videos of Dierdre McCloskey

Deirdre McCloskey is currently my favorite economist.

McCloskey sums up the message of the first few chapters of her book Bourgeois Equality - our lives have been transformed for the better by modern economic growth;

Going in to some depth about why that explosive economic growth actually happened;

Interviewed by Dave Rubin;

A fancy debate;

Another fancy debate, this time for IQ Squared;

The Labor Theory of Value according to some YouTube videos...

The labor theory theory employed by many anti-capitalists generally hinges on the Marxian unit of account called socially necessary abstract labor time - where abstract means average - because fuck Capital Volume Three's even worse quagmire of prices of production.

This is fun and short;

The following video deals with the Marxist rebuttal to the, admittedly half-baked, mud pie criticism. He points out here that it is only after a good is sold that one can begin looking back through time to try to figure out how many labor-points went in to it;

This one's more lighthearted. Two t-shirts employ the same SNALT as each other but seel for different prices. One features Che Guevara, the other Milton Friedman. Different strokes - and therefore different prices - for different folks;

Aaaaaand a more technical exposition of marginalism;

The Coase Theorem

In 1960 a paper by Ronald Coase was published called The Problem of Social Cost, in which Coase deals head on with the problem of externalities by examining three broad categories of responses to such potential problems; taxation, regulation & property.

Lear Liberty knocked up a nice short video summing up the three solutions and using the concept of social costs (nowadays called transaction costs) to explain how best to control the production of externalities from the actions of economic agents.

Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok of Marginal Revolution University have their own video on the same subject, considerably more detailed.

I heartily recommend both videos,  preferably in the order above, to begin one's initiation into the mystery of the Coase Theorem!